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- Paris by Edward Rutherfurd
Suzanne is currently reading:
Craig is currently reading:
The Glorious Cause is the second book in Jeff Shaara’s narration of the American Revolution. Having read and loved the first, I already knew what I was in for when I picked up this novel. Wow! Shaara is such a master at presenting history in a way that is thrilling and even, at times, nailbiting. It doesn’t matter that we already know how the story turns out, this book is fantastic!
Again, Shaara changes perspective with each chapter, featuring such important players as George Washington, Charles Cornwallis, Benjamin Franklin, Nathaniel Greene and the Marquis de Lafayette. Complete with maps, Shaara presents this stage of the war in a very readable progression of military victories and defeats, as well diplomatic battles. From cheering on Daniel Morgan to feeling giddy about the announcement of the French warships arrival in Chesapeake Bay, this book was a rip-roaring ride through the battles that determined the fate of all Americans. Truly, everyone should read this!
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2002
Bill Bryson, humorist and lover of history, science and all kinds of interesting trivia, has long been one of my favorite authors. Ever since I picked up his very funny hiking adventure, A Walk in the Woods, I’ve been hooked. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is Bryson’s childhood memoir. He grew up during the 50′s in Des Moines, Iowa, and that reminded me a lot of my own childhood. Most of the book consists of normal, but very funny, memories of growing up:
“The makers of sneakers also thoughtfully pocked the soles with numberless crevices, craters, chevrons, mazes, crop circles, and other rubbery hieroglyphs, so that when you stepped in a moist pile of dog shit, as you most assuredly did within three bounds of leaving the house, they provided additional absorbing hours of pastime while you cleaned them out with a stick, gagging quietly but oddly content.”
Occasionally, Bryson throws in his two cents about our society, political landscape, etc., but it’s subtle enough and witty enough not to offend you…much. Since the book deals with childhood in the Midwest, I was surprised by Bryson’s use of profanity. It didn’t seem to fit here. I would have loved to recommend it to my teenaged sons, but those few “f” words made up my mind for me. At any rate, I will say this book is hilarious. I laughed so hard, so many times, that my children came running to see if I was alright. It just goes to show you that a few burnt meals, and the inadvertent wearing of lime green capri pants doesn’t hold you back – at least as far as this terrific author is concerned.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2006
Viper Pilot: A Memoir Of Air Combat was fun to read. I learned much about the role of the F-16CJ and the ‘Wild Weasel’ in modern fighter tactics. Hampton (and his editor) do a good job off keeping the story moving. They highlight certain flights that illustrate the world of the modern fighter pilot. He doesn’t bother discussing the economic or political reasons for the battles he fights. Hampton knows that isn’t why we’re reading the book. He also glosses over some of the military systems, which makes following some of his missions more difficult.
Hampton’s style is conversational and light, which makes for a fun and easy read but at times his bravado and attempts at humor dampen my enthusiasm for the book. I tried to keep in mind anyone crazy enough to fly the ‘Wild Weasel’ missions has to have some issues. Whereas most military pilots try to avoid ground fire and Ground-to-Air missiles, the Wild Weasel pilots seek them out in order to kill them.
This book was exactly what I needed! I had just finished slogging through a beautifully written, but extremely dull Booker Prize nominee, and I was craving a book that would entertain me. Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You fit the bill perfectly.
The story begins on a foggy, lonely road where Isabelle is driving west from the Cape, having made the decision to leave her husband. She sees a car up ahead, but too late, she realized it is stopped, facing the wrong direction and avoiding the collision is not an option, as a child is now standing in the middle of her only exit. The tale that unfolds is mesmerizing and haunting. Leavitt keep you engaged with a suspense filled narrative and characters that leave a strong impression on the reader. A perfect summer read!
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011
True Blue is a disappointing crime thriller. It started off promising and I soon got into the story but then it left me flat. Baldacci’s biggest problem is the story- it is not realistic, nor does it capture the imagination. This isn’t the book’s only problem. The characters aren’t interesting. I put the book down halfway through and I wasn’t sure I was going to pick it up again. All the characters read as roughly the same person. Baldacci still manages to write well, for a triller, but rest of the book is disappointing.
The story begins with Mace Perry, a former police officer, being released from prison. Mace thinks by solving a high profile crime she will reclaim her life as a cop. The way she goes about it makes it more likely she will die first.
“With whom else but Blacqueville might I have shared my amusement with America? Not the Americans who looked at me at every moment as if to ask, Are you not awestruck by the wonders you behold? Is this not a miracle? Do you not envy this, admire that? It was not until we approached the lower tip of Manhattan Island when my friends found matters of their own to attend to, that I could no longer be distracted from the painful fact that my pockets contained no single gold coin, nothing but a verbose letter of credit composed in English by the hand of my enemy.”
I was so looking forward to reading this one. I had read and loved Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, and Parrot & Olivier in America was on the shortlist for several awards. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.
Inspired by the life of Alexis de Tocqueville, Carey presents Olivier, the young nobleman who is forced to come to America as another revolution threatens France and the heads of the remaining aristocracy. Not trusted by his family, an Englishman, Parrot, is hired to spy and simultaneously keep Olivier from harm’s way. The stories of both Parrot and Olivier were interesting, right up until the two came together in America. From that point on, it was confusing and a bit on the dull side. Carey’s writing is quite good, but it really doesn’t make up for the lackluster tale here.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2009